Bride: Ayana Baraka, 26, Grad Student
Groom: Patrick Ryan Parker, 26, Analyst
The Big Day: Date coming soon
Where and how did you meet your man?
I met Ryan (I call him by his middle name) in high school through a mutual friend, although, we didn’t officially meet until college.
Were you looking for love at the time?
I definitely was not. After my last relationship, I thought love was something made up my Walt Disney.
What was your first impression of him?
When I first met Ryan I thought, “Okay, what is this guy after?” Our situation was a bit different because we were cyber buddies. We hadn’t met face-to-face until our accidental first date. At which point, I was completely smitten.
What was his first impression of you?
I hope he was thinking, this chick is bad, but he was probably really thinking, this woman in crazy. I didn’t hold back my opinions on our first date.
Did you play hard to get?
I did. He was in school at Penn State and I was in school in New Jersey. Both of our lives were changing rapidly, and I didn’t want a false sense of hope about what we could be when we lived so far from each other.
Was it love at first sight?
It was love at first listen. I was relieved to finally be able to have real tantalizing conversation with a man.
At what moment did you know he was “The One” for you?
I knew he was the one for me when he sent me flowers the day after our first date.
How long did you date before you got engaged?
Did you have a hunch he was going to propose?
I had no idea. He always said that he didn’t want a long engagement, and I was leaving for California in pursuit of a Masters Degree.
Best gift he ever got you?
His time. Our relationship has mostly been log distance. He was in school in Pennsylvania and I was in New Jersey. Then he had to move to Indiana for work and I could only see him for three months at a time with long stretches in between. Then he moved back to New Jersey and I moved to California. We definitely appreciate the moments we have together.
How did he pop the question?
He tricked me into thinking that I was going to his company holiday party at the W Hotel. He said he would meet me there because he was helping to set up the event and was rewarded with a free room. A corporate town car picked me up from my house. He said he was in the room with a coworker watching the game. I was given a company care package at the front desk and room key. I burst into the room to surprise him and his coworkers, but to my surprise, I was greeted by the sounds of Luther, flashing lights, old memorabilia of our time together and him at the end of a path of rose pedals. I didn’t see the ring at first, and his words I don’t remember. I responded to the amount of love I felt through his energy with a yes.
Ryan, were you nervous?
I’ve never been that nervous before in my life!